Fly Your Linux Box by Gyromouse

Reclaim your desktop space and explore new possibilities with a Gyromouse/compact keyboard suite.
Product Information

Product: Ultra GT Gyromouse

Manufacturer: Gyration


Price: $119.95 US (retail)

The Good
  • "In-Air" or desktop capability

  • NiMH battery with good life

  • Radio link, not infra red

  • Plug and play with Linux

The Bad
  • Slightly pricey

  • Sometimes finicky with X

What Makes a Gyromouse Fly?

Pick it up off the table. Squeeze the trigger on the bottom and tilt your wrist slightly. The cursor instantly follows your every movement. It's accurate, wireless and projects the ultimate in techno appeal. It's an Ultra GT Gyromouse.

The Gyromouse, by Gyration, is an ultra high-tech pointing device, and it's the best thing to happen to mice since wireless. In fact, it is a wireless (proprietary RF) optical mouse with little gyroscopes that sense your hand motion. You hold the trigger button on the bottom and wave the Gyromouse around to move the cursor. Sit it on the desktop, and it magically becomes an optical desktop mouse.

My in-air mousing started several weeks ago, when the Gyromouse/Compact Keyboard suite appeared in a retailer's Sunday newspaper insert. The price, $119.95 US or about $88 US after rebates, was a little steep perhaps. But because I'm a Linux-only kind of guy who lugs around a 5-year-old 300MHz PII laptop and recycles ancient Pentiums for my Linux Lab, I thought I could splurge a little. The package came with the mouse, compact keyboard, RF receiver (USB), charger and software (for Windows). Naturally, I had no need for the software.

Several models of the mouse/keyboard suite are available in retail land. A quick call to Gyration confirmed that the 30-foot version (average distance the mouse can be used) was the latest consumer model. The early model is distinguished by its 25-foot range. Mega-dollar presentation pros might opt for the Gyromouse professional model with its 100-foot wireless capability and $180 price tag.

Installing the Gyromouse with Linux

Installing the mouse and keyboard couldn't be easier. They both worked out of the box on one of my ancient Pentium desktops with SuSE 8.0 Linux Pro. I did have to edit several lines in my /etc/X11/XF86Config file so the Gyromouse would work with my 300MHz PII laptop, however. Specifically, I added an InputDevice section for the USB mouse.

Section "InputDevice"
  Driver       "mouse"
  Identifier   "USB mouse"
  Option       "ButtonNumber" "5"
  Option       "Device" "/dev/input/mouse0"
  Option       "Name" "AutoDetected"
  Option       "Protocol" "imps/2"
  Option       "Vendor" "AutoDetected"
  Option       "ZAxisMapping" "4 5"
  Option       "resolution" "250"

The imps/2 line makes the wheel on the Gyromouse work.

I also commented out the PS/2 line and added a USB line in the ServerLayout section.

#  InputDevice  "PS/2 mouse" "CorePointer"
  InputDevice  "USB mouse" "CorePointer"

This setup lets me plug in my wired PS/2 mouse and simply switch the # character on the two lines, in case I run out of mouse battery power or something.

You should be aware that if you've turned on your machine and forgotten to plug in the USB receiver, you occasionally have to restart X. Linux recognizes the device, but X doesn't respond to the mouse movements and your cursor just sits there. In this case, simply CTL-ALT-Backspace to crash out of X and restart. Usually, though, I can turn on the mouse and keyboard, start the laptop and it works fine. It doesn't happen often enough for me to bother making it 100% predictable.

Setting the Feel

You might want to tweak some desktop and XF86Config file settings to get the most comfortable response from the Gyromouse. Start by going into your XF86Config file and playing around with the InputDevice resolution value, under the USB mouse. Mine is set to 250. Larger values tend to make the mouse more sensitive to movement, making it hard to control the cursor when using the mouse in the air.

Next, in KDE go to the Preferences -> Peripherals -> Mouse menu and select the Advanced tab. The important values I use are 1X for the pointer acceleration and 1 pixel for the pointer threshold. High values in the pointer acceleration make the mouse almost totally uncontrollable on my machine. You may have to juggle these values to get the best feel.



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The CTRL key is in the WRONG place

Anonymous's picture

This keyboard will drive you crazy.
It has the seldom used function key where the ctrl key should be.
Alt is confused with a useless windows key.

Totally worhless

Re:[Don't] Fly Your Linux Box by Gyromouse

Anonymous's picture

Purchased the keyboard and mouse for a MythTV based home theatre PC. While mostly acceptable for use in low duty cycle applications (such as a home theatre PC), it certainly is unacceptable for regular use.

I find the mouse problematic on Mandrake 10 (it sometimes simply does not report movements unless the base unit is power cycled by unplugging it and plugging it back in, then reloading the USB module stack and restarting X). What's most strange is that the keyboard still works just fine with the same receiver when the mouse is non-functional. The mouse issue may be related to the 2.4.25 kernel I'm running or some X configuration issue because it did seem to work reliably when I used it on another box running SuSE 9.0. I find the keyboard is too cramped for serious typing when compared to a standard desktop keyboard. The keyboard is also difficult to use with games (it's basically the same style keyboard you would find on a typical laptop). I suspect, based on experimentation and prior experience with RF (I'm an EE and have designed RF receivers) that the receiver is regenerative and is thus very prone to interference. To get any range (even say 10'), expect to be looking to find ways to place the receiver a good distance away from your monitor, TV, etc. To make mine work in my living room reliably, sitting 6' away from the TV (and where I would have liked to have placed the receiver), I had to add a USB extension cable to get the receiver far enough away from the HTPC and TV to make it work. The receiver now sits on top of a speaker in the corner of the room about 8' away from the TV.

If I had to make the decision to buy this product again for a similar application, I would not.

also own and am a fan of the fly mouse

Anonymous's picture

After a week of fiddling with this usb keyboard and mouse combo I can say its a pretty well done deal. Sadly support under linux is a little sketchy (works fine on a knoppix livecd tho)--I need to have another usb mouse plugged in at boot to have the gyromouse detect--though the keyboard picks up quite nicely. The transmitter is tiny--fraction of a pound--and gyration just opened a recall for some defective transmitters (an RMA I applied for and got because the first transmitter didn't do jack).

Anyhow another interesting point about the device that I think was over looked is its gaming potential. Though overly sensitive at first the gyromouse can change the way that games are played. Immediate issues facing gamers looking to check out a 3d mouse, 1)because of the gyro leaning back is up and forward is down aka airplane controls 2)clicking--the position will kick for each click--real 1st person problems =) 3)finally the mouse pad of no mouse pad. Overall it is a daunting task faced with relearning how to play a game and really how to be accurate with a pointing device.

Best of luck and I do recommend -- though the full size keyboard of course


Re: also own and am (NOT) a fan of the fly mouse

Anonymous's picture

I wish I could share everyone's enthusiasm, but I've had nothing but trouble with the full-size version since purchasing it about a year ago. I too got one of the bad receivers, and it took several phone calls to gyration and two mailings by them before I had a replacement. And this was AFTER no one responded to my email to tech support regarding why the device was working so poorly. Shortly thereafter I experienced a marked decrease in battery life. Gyration sent me another battery, no questions asked, but its life is just as poor. For example, I started using a fully-charged battery on Monday and it died Wednesday afternoon; the large majority of that time it was simply idle.

I purchased this suite because of the claimed 25 foot (or is it 30? The box says 30 ft, but the back of the mouse says 25 ft!) sensing range. However, to achieve near 100% reproducibility, I have the receiver about 2 ft from my desk. I'm using the suite on a PC used to control 4 industrial robots, and even this distance is too far when the motor amplifiers are turned on. Changing channels makes little difference.

Finally, I find the keyboard to be a little stiff. I'm sorry I spent so much money for such a frustrating product, just glad it wasn't my $!

Re: Hotpluging Mice

Anonymous's picture

You'll find that you have nicer experiences with swapping mice if you used the following line, then no need to restart X:

InputDevice "PS/2 mouse" "SendCoreEvents"
InputDevice "USB mouse" "CorePointer"

This means you can wack a mouse in any time - I do this for my usb mouse/dock for my laptop.

Re: Fly Your Linux Box by Gyromouse

Anonymous's picture

I own this mouse and keyboard combo myself. While I definitely like the mouse for couch-surfing and presentations, I would not recommend the mini-keyboard for extended periods of typing. As a presentation and web surfing keyboard, the mini serves its purpose. But the tactile feedback is poor (it feels like a laptop keyboard, but flimsier) and the keyboard is very cramped and the keys are in strange places. It's taken me well over three weeks to get fully adjusted to it, and when i go back to regular keyboards I find my hand curling up to hit the Ctrl-Alt keys when I shouldn't have to.

Re: Fly Your Linux Box by Gyromouse

Anonymous's picture

I just did a SuSe 8.2 install on a box that was formerly running windows 2000 and using one of these mice. Sometimes it boots fine but sometimes it hangs when trying to start USB. If you unplug the USB cable it continues to boot but then you have no mouse support. Other then that I love it.

Re: Fly Your Linux Box by Gyromouse

Anonymous's picture

I saw one in the store today, but opted for the logitech wireless optical mouse instead, at much less cost. For presentations, I use a little ACOM Data wireless mouse/laser pointer combination. Very comfortable and effective. But I am intrigued about this Gyromouse...

The real point to this post, though, is you don't have to kill X to get it to recognize a properly configured USB pointer. Just switch to a different virtual X terminal. On my laptop, (Mandrake 9.2) X is on virtual console #7. If you switch to 8 or 9, and then back to 7, it will re-read the devices, and USB pointers start working (as long as the drivers and XConfig is set up for it). Ctrl-Alt-F8, then Ctrl-Alt-F7, and you're all set. In Knoppix, X runs on VC 5, so it's Ctrl-Alt-F6, then Ctrl-Alt-F5.

Hope that saves you a bit of trouble...
John Locke
Open source solutions for small business problems

How big is the usb radio receiver?

Anonymous's picture

I'm not happy with any of the regular laptop mouse devices and would consider the gyromouse. But how portable is it? If the USB end of the device is bulky that's a definate downside. The other question would be how much power the device requires for it's USB end. Wouldn't want to run down the batteries instantly.

Re: How big is the usb radio receiver?

Anonymous's picture

The receiver is a little larger than a deck of playing cards, but it's extremely light weight. The cable can actually lift one side of it up if you try to bend it too sharply.